Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Most Amazing Day of This Mission Trip

When I woke up the other day, I thought it was going to be a typical day of dramas, skits, puppets, dancing, testimonials and sermons. Well, the day initially started out that way, but after lunch, my world was turned around.

I had met a young girl who was sitting, somewhat uncomfortably on a plastic green chair by the entrance of a building that we were going to be speaking to pastors and leaders that afternoon. She was greeting everyone that entered the Center. I'll be sharing more about her in just a bit.

The Center had cinder blocks cemented together like old legos to form thick walls. The holes where windows would have been were bare allowing the wind to flow through, yet covered with metal bars for protection. It had a soil floor and no door with the exception of more long oxidized metal bars to control the flow in and out of the Center. Even though the Center appeared a bit rustic, it was called the Center because it was a centralized location for gatherings of all people in the community. This Center was started by Hermana Ruth and the help of local and international folks. Ruth is a woman that has an imminent heart and passion for children and the elderly in far-out communities that lie in the hills and mountains. Ruth had invited us to the Center to connect with the local community. So here we were. Ready for action.

The girl sitting by the entrance on the chair met my gaze with beautiful large eyes and a sad, yet forced smile. "Hola, buenos días" she said to me as I walked past her. I turned and said hello in Spanish and kept walking into the building, as if she was unimportant to me at that moment. I was too busy rationalizing the long bus drive to this remote area and my intense hunger for lunch.

The next day, our team was given the instruction that we would be trekking up a steep mountain. Throughout that journey, we would be stopping by and visiting some of the locals that lived on the mountain. Our mission was to deliver food and pray for them.

The dirt floors underneath my feet had gotten my shoes and pants all dusty and dirty. I had forgotten to pack tennis shoes for such a trek so I was wearing my brown leather work shoes. As we started to walk down this dusty path full of rocks and debris, we finally approached the bottom of the mountain where we were going to start the ascent. The view of the valley and trees was amazing. It was never-ending greenery every where you looked.

I could hear the musical performance of birds chirping in the air. It was surreal to see such untouched beauty of the land. Although the land was arid due to the dry season, you could still see the menagerie of green life reaching out of the ground searching to be seen by our eyes.

The cool cloudy weather was refreshing as we followed the path up the mountain. Our ankles and calves were tightening with fatigue as the path started to incline drastically. We headed up the side of the mountain through thick brush towards the first home.

When we arrived at the footsteps of the first home, what we saw was not what you would typically consider a home. It was a crooked box made out of lanky sticks, wood planks and thick adobe with black plastic tarps as a rooftop. This home was no larger than ten feet in diameter. A small wooden bed with no mattress and a blue mesh laid inside. This mesh reminded me of the African mosquito meshes you would typically see in a National Geographic magazine photo. No electricity or running water. The home was distilled down to its basics.

A frail man, sitting on a red plastic chair, wearing a stars and stripes bandana and a plaid shirt rolled up to his elbows, greeted us in unintelligible Spanish. His daughter quickly appeared from the side of the entrance and also greeted us with a big smile and open arms. We were there to bring him food but our attention was focused at his health that was deteriorating. Our team gathered around him and prayed for him. This was such a powerful visual I had to take pictures to document such sadness in the man's face.

When the prayers from different members of our team were done, they all mobilized themselves to another room that had a tin roof metal sheet that separated the sleeping area from the obscure kitchen that still had burning embers glowing in the corner. In this other room, the man's daughter sat there with large open sores on her foot.

I stayed with the man and asked him in a quiet reverend voice if I could take his picture so that we could take his image back with us and continue to pray for him. He agreed with a big smile, showing only three frail teeth he had left in his mouth. As I got the camera ready to take a close-up photo of his face, he promptly grabbed his bandana off his head and hid it under his leg, fixed his tousled hair with his fingers that had cracked groves and dirty fingernails. He gave me a deep stare.

I was too slow to capture that perfect moment. As I lifted the camera to my eye to focus on his face, the wonderful smile that I had discovered seconds ago was gone. I tried to make him smile but all I got was the same face he had when we first saw him twenty minutes earlier. I snapped a couple shots, trying to catch a real glimpse of his persona. I thanked him and he replied back by saying, "Dios le bendiga". That was Don Pastor Sanchez Perez. I chuckled a bit because his actual first name was pastor.

The prayers from our team for his daughter in the other room had already started. I quickly found a tiny hole through the tin roof metal sheet just large enough for my lens to fit through. Santa Perez, the daughter of Don Pastor, was positioned away from me but my camera caught a beautiful view of our team of students with their arms extended praying over her and her foot. I snapped a couple of photos of Santa but I could not fathom staring at her foot. It was a disturbing sight. Large gaping ulcers and sores invaded her foot. As the students finished praying for her, I could tell by looking at their faces that the tension in the room as uneasy. The staleness in the air and the unpleasant view of her foot encouraged others to quickly vacate the room after hugs and goodbyes were said.

As we got ready to leave, Tyler, one of our team members and I went back to say goodbye to Don Pastor. Tyler told him that we would be praying for him. Don Pastor looked up, smiled at Tyler and said, "I will see you in heaven." That was such a touching moment that I will never forget. I'm sure Tyler will never forget that face and those words either.

We continued our trek up the steep mountain to our next destination. The heat was now suffocating. Passing through barbed wire fences, fallen trees and walking by dogs that were just bones and skin growling in fear as we walked by…we could now see the next shack up ahead. This house was smaller than the first one. To the left side of it, coffee beans laid out to dry by the hot sun. To the right of it, a pig stye. The foul stench overwhelmed me. The snorting noise of the pigs was an imminent reminder of the unclean surroundings. As I got closer to the pig to photograph it, I could see the filth of his own feces hanging from the hairs around its snout as it made a horrible squealing noise.

I walked towards the house and we were immediately stopped by Hermana Ruth and our translator. She quickly asked the men to turn around and walk the opposite direction because they were not sure how the family would initially react to all these men. The family we were visiting had a young child who had been sexually abused. This young girl has been living in dreadful fear this past year, not being able to play like a normal child.

The women of our team went to pray for her and we remained on the other side of the house. We waited for about ten minutes while they prayed for her and her family. Finally, the men were called over for some additional prayer with the girl and her family. Our team loved on her and comforted her. I peered over the shoulders of one of our team members and I could see the girl smiling as she looked up at one of them. She seemed to be comforted by the embrace of our team members. This connection was amazing to see. Their love and embrace on her was a sight that I had to photograph.

We continued to visit a couple more houses in the surrounding mountain. My heart sank once again after I started to compare the comfort of my own life with the filth and desolate shacks that these families lived in. I was grappling with my own challenges of my comfort and security we have over here in the United States. I unconsciously and unintentionally reacted in disillusionment. I had so much, yet they had so little…and still praised God.

How quick do we complain when our food is not good, when our showers are too cold and our clothes dirty with sweat and dust. These families are so poor, that they did not have much to eat. Their homes, crudely built, shanty and with very little refuge. Enough to protect from the elements but nothing more. It felt like these people had been living in the thick jungle with no running water, electricity or any kind of technology…as if those commodities never existed…or were of no importance to them.

We continued to trek up the mountain and visited several other families and brought them food and prayer. When we reached the next home on the side of the mountain, we saw an elderly lady that we had encountered several hours earlier that day. She walked out to greet us, but immediately interrupted our welcome by telling us that she had just gotten notice that day that her son, who was in jail, might have been killed. She talked and we listened to her desperate voice. She was asking us for prayer for her son. We prayed as a group for her son and for her as well.

We reached the last home where an elderly lady and her grand daughter quietly rested on a wooden bench inside their house. Her frail sunken eyes turned toward us as the team entered her house to pray for her. She tried to stand up and give her seat to my wife Amy, but we quickly assured her that she needed to remain seated. We were here to pray for her, not for her to share her hospitality with us.

While the team prayed with her, I made my way to the back of the house. It was dark and moist. Some time passed before my eyes got accustomed to the darkness. The wet dirt floor seeped into my jeans as I kneeled down to take a picture. The moment I took the picture, I heard a rustling sound to my left. As I glanced over to see what it was, my eyes focused on the dimly lit corner where a large rat seemed to be staring at me with a vicious glance. The rat quickly made its way across the ground in a desperate run towards the side wall of the house. Its tail disappeared through a hole between the sticks that comprised the wall. I turned around and snapped a couple more pictures of the woman and the team praying over her from a different vantage point.

Time was running out so we were told by our translators that we needed to start heading back. We gathered all of our back packs and started the descent down the mountain. We stopped at a large ravine and took a group picture. We had just experienced things that I will never forget and this group picture was a way for us to recompose and smile after an afternoon of tiring work. We laughed and nervously positioned ourselves for this picture. Standing on the edge of this ravine, looking down at the camera, our translator said, "Digan frijoles" which means, "Say beans". I'm guessing that was Nicaraguan's cultural way of smiling to a camera, just as we gringos say 'cheese' as we pose for a picture.

Past the ravine, we came across one more house. I thought we were done visiting homes, but we were told we needed to visit this home as well. I was surprised to see the same young girl that I had met hours earlier at the entrance of the Center. This time, she was not sitting on a chair, she was crawling on the ground on her knees. She was a little shy as her mother explained to us that she had contracted polio when she was young and had lost most of the mobility in her legs. Thick dark calluses had formed on her knees where she used them to crawl around. Her gangling legs danced to her side as she dragged them along when she shifted her body towards us. I was overwhelmed.

Food was delivered to them and subsequently we prayed for them. We took one last group photo with her and her family.

Hugs and goodbyes were shared as we left their dilapidated home. Exhaustion had now hit most of our team members. We still had a long tread back down the mountain. Thorns, barbs and prickles were scratching at our legs and arms. Sharp rocks were pounding underneath our shoes every step of the way. Our bodies were drained from any kind of energy--the sight of the base of the mountain was a delightful reprieve to all of us.

Great things are happening here in Nicaragua. God is undertaking amazing things through our team, but especially through the work of Hermana Ruth, the ministry of Metanoia and the awe-inspiring and life-changing work of Missionaries Eric and Shanna Ferguson. Most of all, God is performing astonishing things through the communities and people of Nicaragua.

This remarkable feat became alive in my life when at the end of the day, as I gazed down the dirt path, I saw the same girl crawling her body across terrain. She was dressed in her Sunday best; a white skirt and a tight tan top. Her thick black hair pulled and pinned back away from her face. As her large bright eyes caught mine, she must have noticed I was taking a picture of her. I could tell that embarrasment overwhelmed her as she covered her face with her hand.

I slowly walked towards her, knelt down on my knees as my eyes caught her gaze. She lowered her hand to showcase her eyes again but continued to cover her mouth. I could tell she was smiling behind her hand as the dimples on her cheeks escaped the protection of her hand. I reached over and gently grasped her hand away from her mouth. As I held her hand in mine, I spoke in my best Spanish, words that I hoped would be transforming to her. "Te ves muy bonita hoy. Para donde vas?" I said. She replied, "Para la Iglesia." She was on her way to church.

My eyes teared up, making it difficult for me to see through the moisture that had accumulated on my eyes. This girl was the symbol of hope. It was a nourishing experience to find out that she dragged herself down that mountain every day to go to the Center to greet guests or to attend one of the many weekly services in a nearby church.

I was astounded by the strength and determination of this girl. Here I was complaining about how difficult it was to go up and down this mountain and here in front of me, was a girl who traversed this mountain multiple times a week on her knees.

When I embarked on this journey to Nicaragua, I had expressed to our team that we were there to bless others, but after this experience, I was the one being blessed and transformed. Sometimes things don't always go as planned, however, I recognized that I should be having the kind of determination that this girl had. Nothing, not even her lack of mobility with her legs was going to hamper her passion and determination at achieving the ultimate goal: to be a servant leader at the Center and to praise and worship her God at church no matter what the circumstances of life brings her.

I will never forget her. I will never forget this day. I will never forget this trip.

- Steve Thurston

Jesus is My Superhero Song at the Children's Outreach Program

Monday, March 11, 2013

Back at the Orphanage

The day after our free day, we were blessed by being able to sleep in a little. We had breakfast at 8 am this morning. After a good breakfast, we headed to the orphanage. We had stopped at the orphanage previously at the beginning of the week but today we got the chance to really hang out with kids. Many of these kids had come from abusive situations before coming to this orphanage. It was heartbreaking to hear about some of their stories.

It was awesome to see the kids so excited to see us again, but I think we were definitely as excited or more to see them. We got the opportunity to do some of our kids programs with both the older and younger kids. They really seemed to enjoy our puppets, which was awesome since we left the puppets with the orphanage so they could use them.

Before the program, we had some time to hang out and play with the kids. The kids would run down the halls laughing and wanting us to chase them. Some kids went out to the playground with some of our team to play on the swings and slides. Emilee enjoyed climbing mango trees to see if any of them were ripe. We had the opportunity to try some fresh mangos that were very delicious.

For lunch we got to sit with the children. It was cute to see some of the guys from our team feeding the little babies.

After saying our goodbyes to the children, we were able to go back to camp and take showers. By this point, we were all hot and sweaty. We had a youth service that evening to get ready for. When we arrived at the church, we worshiped for a bit and then we did our usual program. This evening was Kiersten and Liz's turn to share from their hearts about what God had done in their lives. Tyler preached the sermon tonight as well. He spoke on obedience to God no matter what. It was so encouraging to see all the people that came forward for us to pray over at the end of the service and a large number received Christ as their savior tonight.

- Brittany Johnson & Tyler White

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Reaching Out to Military High School Youth

Today we started off with a school assembly at 7:00AM. The assemblies are completely different here than they are in America where we have meetings in an auditorium. We meet outside in the courtyard of the school. This assembly was for high school students. The teenagers here are similar to the ones in America where the pressure from their peers is strong and response from them is similar to American teenagers. We did our normal routine and several kids gave their lives to Jesus this morning before school began for them!

After the assembly we went to the campground and had breakfast with the team. We left for the next school which originally was supposed to be one assembly but due to age differences and number of kids we split it with elementary students and high school students. Both assemblies went over very well and God moved in both. We had some mishaps with the second assembly with a random dance-off which the high school students took a little too far…the situation was handled which was good and the missionary was invited to come back again with other teams in the future!

After that next service we went to a local Bible College called Universidad Martin Lutero (University of Martin Luther). This was fun. I was stretched at this time because they wanted somebody to play the piano and I was the only person who knew how to play on our team. Traveling for the school I was used to having high-end equipment and here I was playing on something that I was not used to and without a sustain pedal on the piano. That made things difficult. I played songs by my ear and listening to the man leading. The keys kept changing, the songs were outdated but God still stretched me and moved in that room! Simon preached as well this morning and God definitely used him.

We had lunch after the service with the Bible Students. It was really good steak with plantains and rice and beans. We pretty much have had rice and beans with every meal. I’m getting used to having it so often now and it will probably we weird to not have it so frequently soon.

At 2:00 we had a service at a military high school. The kids there were the most respectful and probably my favorite group of high school kids. They received our message and several of them gave their lives to Christ. Afterwards we hung out with them and got to know them for a while which was awesome! Another cool thing is that soda here is significantly cheaper! For two bottles of Fresca it cost 40 cents a piece in US dollars. This outreach was fun and these kids were so loving.

Tonight’s service I was given the opportunity to preach to a congregation of about 200 people. Our team did our normal outreach dramas and testimonies. I preached the same sermon I spoke the other night in the mountains. They received the message and one woman even gave her life to Jesus! It was awesome! God is so good!

After prayer the church transitioned to the most memorable communion service I have ever been a part of. Everybody came up front with his or her communion to the altar. We prayed and ate communion together. Immediately following we all began to worship with each other. It was beyond powerful and God was moving so evidently tonight in that service! I will never forget it. It’s so hard to believe how little emphasis we put on communion in America compared to Central America. It was entirely humbling.

Thank you for all of your prayers!

- David Brock

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hard at Work in the Outdoor Heat

Today began bright and early. It was our last day at the hostel and they ave us a beautiful breakfast in the back of the garden. After we finished eating, packed and said our good byes to the wonderful people at the hostel, we were off for our first event of the day.

Today was definitely one of the hotter days so far because by the time we reached the school we were already pretty gross with sweat and dust.

We were greeted by a sea of children and a welcome banner! They were all so excited to see us and play. We did our service with Emilee doing an amazing sermon about Jonah and then made balloon animals and painted every face. These children were so energetic and had so much fun, I think they had the most fun of all the events we have done so far.

The orphanage from a few days ago was our destination for lunch. When we walked in, the first children we saw were the twin girls we had seen a couple of days earlier. Amy and I would have taken them both! They are so sweet and content. While everyone else was inside, we played on the swings, slides and tossed around mangos.

When we brought the girls back inside, the rest of the team could not get enough of them. Simon, Matt and David seemed to be the girls favorites.

Lunch at the orphanage was fantastic but unfortunately, Kiersten got heat exhaustion and was very sick. Leaving the orphanage wasn't too hard because we were just passing by for lunch and we knew that we would be back for a full day at the orphanage this coming Saturday.

From there we headed to our next event at a school. Kiersten was still very sick and sat on the side for this event. This was lucky for her because our event was outside in the sun and our one drama involves us throwing ourselves onto the ground, which today was like jumping into a heap of just, dirt, elves and rocks.

The students didn't seem as interested as our other event had been. It was a little discouraging. They talked amongst themselves and didn't always pay attention but two brave students came up for prayer. If we were meant to go there for just these two, then that was enough for me!

As we were driving away we passed a large group of people camping out in protest. Abdias, our translator, explained to us that they had been driven out of their homes and were now protesting the government for the land they were camping on. It was heart breaking to see people living in those conditions.

Thankfully, from there we went straight back to the camp group to shower. We were all very sweaty and now had dirt from our drama stuck to us too so it was much needed! Once we were refreshed and clean, we were off to our last event for the day. We were already for God to move.

The area where our service was had multiple tents. Ours was in the back and was near a bathroom that had both soap and toilet paper!

Everything about this service felt so right, like God was with us before it even started. We did our zumba dance to get every one having fun together since it was mostly adults and teens. They loved it! The rest of the service went really well. Tyler gave a wonderful sermon on obedience! God truly moved during the alter call and I was privileged to help lead a young lady to Christ.

- Michelle Clark

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Heading Out to Rural Matagalpa

The day started off wonderfully since everyone to to sleep in an extra hour. Once everyone was ready, we enjoyed a lovely devotional by Kelli about faith. We read about Abraham's faith and how we should have faith in God in everything we do on this missions trip.

On the way to Proyecto Matagalpa, we got a little scared at one point because our translators jumped out of the bus without warning us. It all turned out fine, they had jumped out to grab us drinks and ice for us for today. The team was determined that we are not really suffering for Christ since the food they serve us here is really good.

After breakfast, we did a service for a group of local rural schools. Some of the kids had to walk from their schools to where we were. The children seemed amused by our dances and thought that the story of Zacheas was funny. Several children gave their lives for Christ. Praise God!

We then had the honor to serve some elderly people in the local community. We served them food, gave testimonials and Simon gave a sermon. We were all so blessed by the elderly when we had a chance to pray over them and then they prayed over us. The elderly here love giving hugs and kisses, and let me tell you, we've had more hugs and kisses today than probably our whole lifetime.

During lunch time, Amy taught us all a very valuable lesson. This lesson was that you can floss your teeth with a strand of your own hair. Kelli decided to try this valuable lesson, but instead of one hair, she used four hairs and needless to say this didn't work. They broke in-between her teeth which hurt and Kiersten had to help Kelli get the hair out that was stuck in her tooth.

After lunch, the team got a nice workout. We climbed up a mountain to hand out food to local people and pray for them. We met many people with various needs that challenged our hearts and prayers. Brittany and Loren bonded with one girl based on their testimonies. It has been amazing seeing our testimonies used to touch and help and help others. All of us wish that we could help them more.

Later we went to another church service where we got to minister to others. David gave a powerful sermon on how God can free us from our spiritual shackles.

While we were waiting for dinner, someone found a Saltamonte (Nicaraguan grasshopper about three inches big). Tyler said that he would pay someone $20 if they would eat it. Our translator, Moises, said he would eat it. So for the next several minutes everyone surrounded Moises with cameras to record him eating the grasshopper. Moises ended not eating it, but we did get video of Emilee licking it and kissing it on its face.

- Elizabeth Whitman

Our Trust in God was Tested Today

Today we had an early morning programmed so we had to get up at 6:30 am, eat breakfast and leave by 7:30 am on a two and a half bus ride through the country to a city called Matagalpa. When we got there, the school program had been cancelled.

We decided to drop by a local orphanage so we could use the restrooms. When everyone got out of the bus, we encountered two little twin girls that were feeding each other at a table. The twin girls won our hearts immediately. We were all holding them and loving on them. It's no surprise that Amy asked Steve if they could take them home by adopting them.

After we left the orphanage, we moved into our new home for the next two days. We unpacked our bags into the Hostal El Rey, a little, yet cozy hostel run by a local Christian family. The hostel is a beautiful place with a patio and garden out the back that is perfect for team bonding. The only thing that we don't love is the cold showers…but at least there is soap and toilet paper (something our previous place did not have).

After settling into the hostel, we went to a pastor's conference that focused on leadership and making our priorities right. Simon, Tyler, Dave, Amy and Steve shared from their hearts. We got to pray for the elders and they returned the blessing and prayed for us. We also got to enjoy home cooked meals which where our first Nicaraguan authentic meals. For lunch we got chicken and white rice, for dinner we had tacos with cole slaw and ketchup.

Our last thing on the schedule was leading an adult service at a remote church up in the hills. When we got there, to our surprise, a bunch of young men were standing outside of the church looking in through the windows but would not come in. The girls on the trip felt disrespected by the comments these young men were saying to them as we all walked into the church. From that point on, we all felt uneasy because we were told to be careful with these young men because the situation had become very unpredictable at that point.

The service continued and we performed our dramas, dances, testimonials and preaching but we made sure to pair up each girl with a guy for protection. At the end of the service, the men on our team escorted all the girls out to the bus safely.

Our trust in God was tested through this situation. It took faith to know God's protection was over us during that service. God moved through our skits and testimonies given by Matt, Loren, Amy and Tyler's sermon during that service.

God has been good and we are so excited to see all that God has in store for us this week. Thank you for your continued prayers.

- Kelli Noecker and Kiersten Seaburg

Ministering in the City of Managua

Today was a busy day, full of three church services! We left around 6:45 am after eating breakfast with Missionary Eric Ferguson at our camp.

We arrived at Hosanna Masaya church where we participated at two back-to-back services. The church services began with their own worship team--very talented and similar to our U.S. style of worship.

After worship, we introduced ourselves, presented human videos and then Brittany and Emilee shared their testimonies followed by Macy worshiping through dance. After the dance, Amy shared the Word of God and our interpreter, Pastor Moises translated. Altar calls are very popular here so after almost every service, we had the opportunity to pray with people. It was a very humbling and powerful experience.

Following the service, the pastor of Hosanna Masaya kindly prepared us pastries and drinks for us. We got to relax a little before the next service. Pastor Eric and his wife Shana got us food very similar to KFC (you would think we were still in the States) and then several of us go on the bed of his truck and rode back to our camp (having the ride of our lives on a 45-minute bumpy drive) while the rest of the team went back on the bus.

Our last service was at the church were our other translator, Pastor Abdias, was pastoring at. We immediately connected with the children there. We climbed trees, held the children on our shoulders, they taught us Spanish words, took pictures and even chased (and got chased) by a cow! Kiersten, as she ran from the tied cow, tripped and met the curb face-to-face. Luckily with no injuries!

We did the same program at this church. However, only 25+ people showed up (compared to the typical crows of 180-250 people we had experienced prior to this location). Even though it was such a small group of people, it was awesome! Simon gave the Word and after, because there were so little people, we were able to connect and love the children after the service with balloons and face painting. Some of us got our faces, hands and arms painted by the children as well.

That evening, our team went to our first Nicaraguan dinner at a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant were we had beef, pork and chicken tacos and they were 'muy buenos'. After our meal, we went back to camp to sleep after a very long day. You would think that the fun ended there, but when we got back to the camp, our bus driver Rudy gave Tyler and Dave a quick crash course on how to drive and maneuver the bus in the parking lot. Today was a crazy day!

- Emilee Slingerland and Brittany Cali

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Children's Outreach and Church Services

Our first day here in Nicaragua was a great way to kick off our missions trip. It started with breakfast at 7 am, and at 7:30 am we were off. We were on the bus on our way to a school and church plant. There were about 180 kids that came to listen and see what we had to say.

It was our first program of our trip and we were ready for God to use us. We danced, we sang, and we were crazy.

Kelli and Simon shared their testimonies and David had the sermon of Zacheus. Matt was the tree and I was Zacheus. Ha ha. Afterwards, we had face paint and animal balloons and were mobbed by children. I have learned the word for sword, dog and hat in spanish very well.

For lunch we had chicken, plantains and rice.

Next we went to a park in Managua. This was pure street evangelism to the kids and those surrounding. We were doing the same program as the service before with the kids, but only not in a Christian environment. It was really cool to see the kids dance and sing with us to "Jesus is my Superhero" because they participated more than the last group. And this time we changed the program to where two kids were Zacheus and the tree, to get them involved.

When it was time to hand out animal gallons, it was so hard to control the children. But it showed how a simple balloon twisted into a crazy shape can make a child's day.

Lastly, we went to a youth service at Hosanna Central which is the main church for several other churches in the area. The church was beautiful. It actually stuck out more than the other places we had been. It was nicer and bigger than our Flower Chapel at school.

The service was amazing. We did two dramas, "Get Back Up" and "Set Me Free", and I did a solo dance, that God helped me put together that afternoon. Brittany, Cali and Tyler gave their testimonies, while Simon preached on Gideon and how we should define ourselves by what God says and not what the world says.

It was so cool to worship with them because they were some songs that we knew in English, so it was cool to learn them in Spanish. I am definitely downloading some Spanish worship music when I get back home.

Of all the things to have for dinner in Nicaragua, we had McDonalds. But it was cool to see the portion differences from the States and Nicaragua.

I would ask you to pray for the children of Nicaragua. After spending the day (which felt like three) with children and youth, it showed me how much they need to be loved. By sharing Jesus all day with them, I pray that we made a long lasting impact on their lives.

P.S. The best fruit juice to be made in the world is found in Nicaragua and is held in bags.

- Macy Poore

Saturday, March 2, 2013

We Have Arrived in Nicaragua!

We arrived safely to Managua, Nicaragua. The beautiful warm weather was highly anticipated by the team! Although we just arrived last night, we started bright and early this morning with children's ministry at a local school called Colegio Hosanna.

Over 180 kids were ministered this morning. We have two other locations for this afternoon and evening where we will be actively connecting with kids and youth through the various programs we will be performing. We will post more photos this evening when we get back.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Leaving for Nicaragua Today!

We are excited to be traveling today. Only a few more hours untill we are on our plane in-route to Nicaragua...on the way to our adventure of a lifetime :-)

So far today, we have already taken a ton of pictures (see some below) and had no issues with our luggage. We came close with the weight on our suitcases but we managed to go through security and now we are getting ready to have our last U.S. meal before boarding.

If there is an emergency (especially if our parents need to contact us) please contact Ethleen Sawyer, our Intercultural Studies Department Secretary at Valley Forge Christian College.

All of your prayers are more than appreciated!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Getting Ready to Leave for Nicaragua

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out our blog!! We are so excited to be leaving for Nicaragua tomorrow afternoon. Anticipation is growing, and the countdown to departure has begun!

There has been a lot of preparation, prayer and fundraising that has made this trip possible. While on the trip we are going to be doing kids programs, working in an orphanage, giving church services and lots more fun stuff. We will be posting daily (or as often as possible) about our events and activities.

Keep checking back on a regular basis to see some pictures and hear some of the amazing stories!! Thank you for your support and prayers while we are there. God bless!

Team Nicaragua

We are grateful for coming alongside our team in this tremendous opportunity of compassion and spiritual care for Nicaragua.

We appreciate your continued partnership with us in being a helping hand to our neighbors in Nicaragua who are in dire need as well as a chance for us to share about the amazing opportunity of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Please keep Valley Forge Christian College's Team Nicaragua in your prayers. The following are the students that will be traveling to Nicaragua on March 1, 2013: David Brock, Michele Clark, Brittany Cali, Loren Metallo, Brittany Johnson, Matthew Oliphant, Kelli Noecker, Macy Poore, Simon Wellman, Kiersten Seaburg, Tyler Whilte, Emilee Slingerland, Elizabeth Whitman, and VFCC staff members Steve & Amy Thurston.

Thank you for caring and sharing!

Prepping for Children & Youth Outreaches

We had a great time working on programs for schools, churches, youth services and orphanages. Weeks of practice on our human videos, skits, sermons, puppets and dances that we will be performing during our ten days in Nicaragua.

Gearing Up & Getting Excited!

Team Nicaragua has been busy these last couple of months raising support for our mission trip. Here is part of the team with our table at Victory Church in Lancaster.